The Communications Minister Ursula Owusu Ekuful has said Ghana’s Communications sector is ready to fully take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The operational phase of the AfCFTA was launched in Niamey, Niger on July 7, 2019, and would be one of the largest free trade areas since the formation of the World Trade Organisation, given Africa’s current population of 1.2 billion people, which is expected to grow to 2.5 billion by 2050.
Ghana would host the secretariat of the AfCFTA, having prevailed over six other countries that had also expressed interest in hosting it.
Addressing a ministerial panel discussion on the implementation of the AfCTA on Tuesday 20, August Mrs Owusu Ekuful said the sector under her stewardship is ready for the opportunities that the AfCTA would present.
“The Communication Sector is one of the 5 priority service sectors of the African Continental Free Trade Area and with a market of over 1.2 billion people; it offers enormous opportunities for our citizens to prosper. For trade facilitation, access to high-speed internet, the reduction in the cost of communication, ease of doing business, efficiency and the time for transacting business is crucial,“ she stated.
“Ghana has the core infrastructure available and we are ready to take advantage of the Single Continental Market that the AfCFTA presents. The availability, affordability and accessibility of digital infrastructure is a key priority for Government. The following key infrastructure activities have been undertaken to propel trade-related activities in line with the AfCFTA.”
She continued: “The opportunities for our teeming youthful population are countless. The digital era provides the platform to breed entrepreneurs with the capabilities to develop new innovative Apps and software. We must provide digital skills for our youth and grow the software industry in Ghana to be able to develop homegrown digital solutions for the African market.
“The Communication sector connects all other sectors and the pivotal role it plays in the achievement of the core objectives of the AfCFTA and requires that the Member States pay critical attention to and invest in the core digital infrastructure now. We are doing so in Ghana.”
Mrs Owusu Ekuful also used the platform to outline government of Ghana’s investment in ICT through the construction of terrestrial fibre network nationwide. “We have put in Metro Fibre in Accra and its environs, and the Eastern Corridor all the way to Cinkanse near Bawku on the border with Burkina Faso. We are in talks with Burkina to connect our fibre infrastructure to theirs and ready to do the same with Togo and Cote D’Ivoire. This backbone fibre network is available to support the provision of not just Government services and activities but the private sector as well.”
She said the Government efforts had been complimented by infrastructure investments made by the private sector to provide enough redundancy and capacity for efficient service delivery. We intend to blanket the country with fibre and Long-Term Evolution (LTEs) to provide last-mile connectivity to unserved and underserved communities.
“We are leveraging the Universal service Fund managed by GIFEC in partnership with the private sector to provide rural telephony and have constructed 400 cell sites in remote communities in the past 2 years, connecting some 2 million people. We are finalizing the procurement process to connect the remaining 2600 communities hopefully by the end of next year. We are connecting the unconnected to leave no one behind in our promotion of digital inclusion in GHANA. We also have 5 submarine cables landing in Ghana connecting our internet traffic to the rest of the world.” She added.